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Wick's Review

Created Nov 27, 2010 07:26PM PST • Edited Jun 20, 2020 03:46PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Very Good 3.5

    Iconic rapper Eminem achieved pop culture immortality in this loose recreation of his emergence from the Detroit hip-hop scene. It’s been said that 8 Mile plays like a rap version of Saturday Night Fever. True enough, though it achieves greater resonance by profiling its own star and memorializing the death of the city from which he sprang.

    Eminem’s semi-autobiographical tale paints him as a basically good guy, notwithstanding the extreme edginess brought on by his drunken slut of a Mother (played by Kim Basinger), absent Father, and the testosterone-infused mean streets of Detroit. He’s also supremely talented of course, a Caucasian freak of nature who dominates African-Americans at their own game of battle rap.

    Set in ‘95, 8 Mile wallows in the death throes of a Detroit that had suffered nearly three decades of decline. Viewing the movie in `10, another decade and a half in the future, Detroit’s death as a working city has proved a fait accompli.

    You don’t need to be a rap fan to appreciate this movie. It’s a great film that brings to life a notable strata of American society, while displaying the charismatic talents of Eminem in the process. As the song goes, Lose Yourself in it.

  3. Very Good 3.5

    Eminem ably acquits himself playing his cinematic doppelgänger. A supreme rapper, he spends most of the movie not rapping, so deserves credit for the totality of his great performance.

    Kim Basinger seems typecast as a trailer-trash MILF. She wears it well.

    Michael Shannon jumps offscreen as her abusive boyfriend. This actor remains most well known for his psychotic grown-son role in Revolutionary Road. 8 Mile demonstrates that he deserves to be seen often.

    Brittany Murphy seemed a natural as a freaky party girl. It’s a bit haunting watching her performance now given that she later died of overdose, and her character seemed headed for a similar sad end.

    Mekhi Phifer displays his nonpareil grin and contagious charisma. Why isn’t he a bona fide moviestar by now?

    Anthony Mackie smoothly plays a high rolling rapper. Between this performance and his more grounded one in The Hurt Locker, Mackie proves himself a performer of considerable range.

    Omar Benson Miller proves likable as ever, as he also did in The Express.

  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Very Good 3.5
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Very Good 3.5
  8. Great 4.0

    Director Curtis Hanson gives his film a taut energy that matches the affect of the testosterone-infused young guys it chronicles. Combined with more than a little scintillating rap, it’s a great film.

  9. Direction Great 4.0
  10. Play Very Good 3.5
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Very Good 3.5

    Detroit is depicted as burned out, hollowed out, and just plain down and out. Only the rappers live large. No wonder they appeal to the otherwise skill-free kids of the city.

  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.9

    Sex and drugs and hip-hop along with a testosterone-fueled culture of violent bombast all get mixed in 8 Mile’s stew.

  15. Sex Erotic 3.0
  16. Violence Fierce 1.9
  17. Rudeness Nasty 3.7
  18. Glib 1.5

    The movie hardly keeps it real by downplaying the aftereffects of violence. For instance, Eminem comes out of a brutal beating with little more than a couple of black eyes, when in reality he would likely have broken ribs, teeth and a concussion. Thus does gangsta life get falsely glamorized for future generations of impressionable kids.

    The title refers to 8 Mile Road, the dividing line between black inner-city and white suburban Detroit. As a poor white guy, Eminem’s character lives in a trailer park on 8 Mile Road, though he clearly identifies with the blacks below 8 Mile. Central Detroit was then area code 313. North of 8 Mile was the 810. The 313 & the 810 are often rapped about in the movie.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.6
  20. Biological Glib 1.8
  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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